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August 2016 Auto Sales: Things Were Not So Hot

Are Auto Sales on the Decline, or Just Leveling Off?

If break-even was the new up in 2009-10, when everybody but Subaru suffered huge auto sales declines, then perhaps peaking sales are today’s sales decline. Despite a softening premium/luxury market, especially on the car side, U.S. vehicle sales were up slightly through July, and are more or less plateauing after August sales.

General Motors, Ford Motor Company, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and many of the smaller volume automakers posted significant declines in year-over-year sales numbers. FiatChrysler’s sales were up 3 percent over August of 2015, though ironically, this increase is tied to revelations that the company had misreported numbers several months over the past few years. FCA’s August 2016 total is 2.4 percent lower than the number originally reported for August 2015.

2015 subaru outback rear three quarter blue

Subaru, the U.S. sales superstar of the last decade, reported its best month here, ever. The crossover sport/utility-intensive automaker steamed past Kia to take eighth place.

Crossovers and SUVs are, in fact, the lesson of August’s story. They continue to take sales from sedans, and the trend of one-downsizing – trading in midsize sedans for compact CUVs, for example – continues. The Nissan Rogue far outsold the Altima last month, and the compact CUV is just a couple-thousand units behind the midsize sedan for the first eight months of the year. Honda’s CR-V also outsold the Civic and Accord, and the Toyota RAV4 outsold Camry and Corolla.

The MDX and RDX dominate Acura sales, and midsize SUVs lead at Infiniti and Lexus. The SUVs X3 and X5 stemmed BMW’s 7.2-percent loss, while the 3/4 Series continued to lose customers. Porsche’s overall sales rose slightly, but only because of Macan. All other models saw declines.

2017 Jaguar XE 20D R Sport front end in motion 04

Mercedes-Benz’s popular C-Class, Audi’s new A4 and the new Jaguar XE are surely stealing compact Bimmer sales, though the C-Class’s numbers nevertheless declined as well. Benz claimed its best-ever August in the U.S., though mostly on the strength of its SUVs – the all-new E-Class was up too, as well as the very low-volume SL and AMG GT sports cars.

They were rare gainers among sports cars, along with the Corvette, which helped mitigate sliding Camaro sales at Chevrolet. Combined sales of the Mazda Miata and the new-for-2017 Fiat 124 Spider were down from August ’15, when only the MX-5 was in showrooms. Ford Mustang and especially, the new Chevrolet Camaro are struggling in the market. And this was August, traditionally a good month for sports cars.

Apparently, few of us want to sit below average traffic anymore. Chrysler once beat the rest of the U.S. industry with its longer, lower, wider 1957 models. Now it’s making all its money on Jeeps and Ram pickup trucks.

2015 Jee Wrangler Unlimited Sahara side in motion

That still leaves us with this question: Will calendar ’16 sales be about equal with 2015’s record 17.5 million, or we start to see a decline in the last four months of the year?

Hyundai’s August performance might provide a clue, at least for the optimists among you. The company has struggled to meet demand for its Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport, and this summer moved the Sport’s production to Montgomery, Alabama, freeing up capacity for its three-row Santa Fe in West Point, Georgia. August Santa Fe sales rose nearly 35 percent, making it Hyundai’s second-bestseller. Without the added capacity, Hyundai most certainly would not be able to claim its best August ever – topping the previous August by just three vehicles.

And so, to the numbers…

2017 Chevrolet Corvette Grand Sport front three quarter in motion 09

1. General Motors: 256,429, off 5.2 percent.

  • Chevrolet was off 3.9 percent, to 175,965 and GMC was off 14 percent, to 42,440.
  • Buick was off 2.7 percent, to 21,678, while Cadillac gained 3.9 percent, to 16,346.
  • Chevy sold 22,342 Cruzes, up 52.4 percent, and 15,273 Equinoxes, off 39.4 percent.
  • Combined GMC Sierra and Chevrolet Silverado sales totaled 69,886. Canyon and Colorado totaled 12,605.
  • Cadillac sold 4,929 XT5s and 1,242 CT6es, the latter nearly catching CTS, which was off 17.6 percent, to 1,426. ATS was up 1.1 percent, to 2,477.
  • Corvette was up 12.4 percent, to 3,063, and Chevy Volt was up 50.8 percent, to 2,081.

 

2. Ford Motor Company: 214,482, off 8.4 percent.

  • Mustang maintains the Pony Car Wars lead (though Chevy claims it’s because Ford relies on daily rental fleets), with 8,299 sold, off 17 percent. Camaro is off 10.1 percent, to 5,604. Challenger is the only model that had an August increase, up 5 percent, to 5,262.
  • Ford brand was off 9 percent, to 205,239, while Lincoln was up 7 percent on the strength of an additional SUV model (MKC), to 9,243.
  • Ford F-Series was off 6.1 percent, to 66,946.
  • Fusion was off 32.6 percent, to 19,052, Escape was off 2.8 percent, to 28,061 and Explorer was off 15.5 percent, to 18,294.
  • Lincoln MKZ was up 7.1 percent, to 2,754 and MKX was up 49.9 percent, to 2,643.

2016 Toyota RAV4 Hybrid rear side view wide

3. Toyota Motor Sales: 213,125, off 5 percent.

  • The Toyota brand was off 4.6 percent, to 182,187, including 5,627 Scions, up 44.5 percent. Lexus was off 7.6 percent, to 30,938.
  • At 32,864, off 12.6 percent, Camry edged out Corolla, which was off 3.1 percent, to 30,741, but RAV4 outsold them both, at 33,171, up 8.6 percent.
  • Tacoma was off 5.3 percent, to 15,373 and Tundra was off 1.8 percent, to 9,875.
  • Toyota sold 12,984 Priuses, off 26.9 percent, and 638 Scion FR-Ses, off 33.5 percent, but also sold a healthy 371 Mirai fuel cell cars.
  • Lexus IS was off 22.3 percent, to 3,525 and ES was off 19.8 percent, to 5,840. RX edged up 0.8 percent, to 9,701.

 

4. FiatChrysler: 196,756, up 3 percent.

  • It’s all Jeep, up 12 percent, to 86,468, and Ram, up 2 percent, to 44,426.
  • Wrangler continues to slide, though, off 16 percent, to 15,290, while Cherokee gained 41 percent, to 23,932. Grand Cherokee was up 12 percent, to 18,409 and Renegade was up 3 percent, to 8,181.
  • Ram pickup was off by 139 units (0 percent) to 40,202. ProMaster was up 25 percent, to 3,234 and ProMaster City jumped 32 percent, to 990.
  • Chrysler brand was off 22 percent, to 18,753. It sold 7,459 Pacificas. The 300 was up 22 percent, to 5,275, while 200 was off 66 percent, to 4,210.
  • Dodge was off 5 percent, to 44,340. Charger was up 24 percent, to 8,614 and Dart was off 54 percent, to 2,898.
  • Fiat was off 21 percent, to 2,732, with 460 of them 124 Spiders.
  • Alfa Romeo sold 37 4c models, off 62 percent.

2016 Honda CR V side profile 04

5. American Honda, 149,571, off 3.8 percent.

  • Honda division was off 3.5 percent, to 135,325 and Acura was off 7 percent, to 14,246.
  • CR-V was the bestseller, up 5 percent, to 36,517. Civic was off 2.4 percent, to 32,807, and Accord dropped by 26.4 percent, to 30,115.
  • Honda sold 3,437 new Ridgelines, up from 4 leftover old models a year-ago to-date.
  • MDX led Acura, up 8.1 percent, to 5,131. RDX was off 3.6 percent, to 4,207, and TLX was off 17.4 percent, to 3,595.

 

6. Nissan Group: 124,638, off 6.5 percent.

  • Nissan brand was off 6.9 percent, to 114,199 and Infiniti was off 1.8 percent, to 10,439.
  • Rogue was Nissan brand’s bestseller for the second straight month, at 32,979, up 19.2 percent.
  • Altima dropped 39.2 percent, to 19,646 and Sentra was off 9 percent, to 14,256.
  • Leaf fell 23.5 percent, to 1,066, Juke nosedived 51.6 percent, to 1,143 and 370Z was off 7.1 percent, to 590. GT-R was up 35.4 percent, to 88.
  • Titan was off 1.6 percent, to 1,248.
  • Infiniti Q50 was off 2.4 percent, to 3,745 and QX60 dropped 18.2 percent, to 3,268.

 

7. Hyundai: 72,015, up 3 units (0 percent).

  • Claims best August ever (just barely) thanks to SUV lineup.
  • Elantra was its bestseller, off 7.6 percent to 20,733. Santa Fe was up 34.8 percent, to 15,176, and Sonata was next, off 31.8 percent, to 14,888.
  • The Genesis models were off 46 percent under sell-down, to 1,317, but the new Genesis brand sold 1,497 G80s.

 

8. Subaru: 60,418, up 14.7 percent.

  • Outback, up 56.2 percent to 17,358, and Forester, up 11.9 percent to 19,568, had their best sales months ever.
  • Legacy was up 35.5 percent, to 5,800, though Crosstrek was off 0.1 percent, to 8,787 and BRZ dropped 39.4 percent, to 302.

2017 Kia Sportage EX front three quarter 05

9. Kia: 54,248, off 7.9 percent.

  • Soul was off 28.4 percent, to 12,253.
  • Sportage sales rose 19.8 percent, to 6,888.
  • Optima dropped 32.3 percent, to 9,470 and Sorento fell 16.4 percent, to 8,533.

 

10. Mercedes-Benz USA: 31,909, up 2.1 percent.

  • New E-Class (combining sales numbers with CLS) was up 18.3 percent, to 5,069, though C-Class remains the bestseller, at 6,125, off 14.4 percent.
  • GLC (ex-GLK) was up 117.5 percent, to 4,715, obviously grabbing some GLE/M-Class sales, which were off 16.2 percent, to 3,756. GLS/GL-Class was up 33.1 percent, to 2,912.
  • Daimler’s vans were up 39.5 percent to 3,152, and Smart was off 42.8 percent, to 353.

 

11. BMW Group: 30,500, off 7.2 percent.

  • 3 Series remained BMW’s bestseller, at 5,885, though off a whopping 42.1 percent, with the 4 Series coupe variant off 22.3 percent, to 2,285.
  • 6 Series was the only car model up, by 15.1 percent, to 297.
  • X3 was up 119.5 percent, to 4,668 and X5 was up 47 percent, to 4,121.
  • The Cooper/S convertible was the only Mini model to post a gain; up 122.3 percent, to 1,533. Countryman was off 6.2 percent, to 1,312, and the Cooper/S four-door was off 25.5 percent, to 840.

Mazda Miata and VW GTI 05

12. Volkswagen: 29,384, off 9.1 percent.

  • Jetta edged up 5.5 percent, to 11,720 while Passat sagged 0.3 percent, to 7,389.
  • GTI accounted for 2,081 Golfs, up 9.1 percent, for total Golf sales of 4,840, off 31.6 percent.
  • Tiguan was up 4.3 percent, to 3,302 and Beetle was off 28.6 percent, to 1,519.

 

13. Mazda: 26,109, off 12.8 percent.

  • CX-5 dominated, up 5.8 percent to 10,612, and CX-9 was up 6.3 percent, to 1,863.
  • Mazda3 was off 28.2 percent, to 7,297 and 6 was off 25.8 percent, to 4,006.
  • MX-5 Miata fell 38.8 percent, to 823; combined, the Miata/Spiata total of 1,283 fell 61 units short of August ‘15’s Miata sales.

 

14. Audi: 19,264, up 2.5 percent.

  • A3 was off 4.9 percent, to 3,032, while the new A4 nearly caught it, at 2,965, up 16.7 percent.
  • Q5 was off 12.5 percent, to 4,419, though Q3 was up 88.2 percent to 2,238. The new Q7 was up 16.4-percent, to 2,347.
  • TT was off 9.1 percent, to 281. R8 was up 174.3 percent, to 96.

2017 Range Rover SVAutobiography Dynamic 03

15. Jaguar/Land Rover: 9,329, up 46 percent.

  • Combined brands’ best August since 2003, when both were part of Ford Motor Company and the X-Type was relatively high in volume and low on Jaguar-ness.
  • F-Pace already is Jaguar’s volume leader, with 1,222 sold last month.
  • Jaguar sold 901 XE models, and 483 XFs. Brand’s total was 3,298, up 189 percent.
  • Land Rover was up 15 percent, to 6,031, with 1,236 Range Rovers and 1,667 Range Rover Sports sold. Discovery Sport was up 18 percent, to 1,038.

 

16. Volvo: 7,682, up 30.9 percent.

  • The new XC90 is its bestseller, at 2,859, up 211.4 percent. XC60 was off 21.8 percent, to 1,847, and S60 was down 24.7 percent, to 1,109.
  • Volvo sold 194 S90s.

 

17. Mitsubishi: 7,336, off 11.5 percent.

  • Outlander Sport was off 21.7 percent, to 2,572. Outlander dropped by 3.6 percent, to 2,109.
  • Mirage was down 1.8 percent, to 1,541, though i-MiEV was up 317 percent, to 25.

 

18. Porsche: 5,181, up 3.5 percent.

  • Macan was the bestseller, up 71.9 percent, to 2,304. Cayenne was off 17.8 percent, to 1,209.
  • 911 was off 20.2 percent, to 749, and Boxster/Cayman was off 38.5 percent, to 474.

 

2017 Mercedes Benz E300 4MATIC front three quarter 06

Luxury/Premium Brands, YTD:

  1. Mercedes-Benz: 245,329
  2. Lexus: 210,392
  3. BMW: 204,744
  4. Audi: 134,562
  5. Acura: 106,914

 

Select Sports Cars and EVs, YTD:

  1. Chevrolet Corvette: 19,890
  2. Chevrolet Volt: 14,295
  3. Nissan Leaf: 7,922
  4. Mazda Miata: 7,088
  5. Scion FR-S: 5,103

 

Midsize cars, YTD:

  1. Toyota Camry: 266,746
  2. Honda Accord: 231,415
  3. Nissan Altima 217,290
  4. Ford Fusion: 189,892
  5. Chevrolet Malibu: 148,868

 

Compact CUVs, YTD:

  1. Honda CR-V 231,609
  2. Toyota RAV4 230,942
  3. Nissan Rogue 215,160
  4. Ford Escape 209,699
  5. Chevrolet Equinox 158,475